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The 20 Best Anime Series of 2023

The Eminence in Shadow (2023) by Kazuya Nakanishi

I am not sure if it has something to do with the release of another Miyazaki film this year, but the whole anime industry actually seems to experience another surge, with the titles of quality coming one after the other. That this level actually applies to series that continue, new ones, based on manga or original, remakes and relaunches, and the streaming ones is probably the most astonishing feat for 2023, in one of the best seasons in anime we have seen lately.

Without further ado, here are the best anime of 2023, in reverse order, in a list that includes titles whose season or the whole series ended in 2022.

20. (, )

Koichi Hatsumi focuses intently on Takemichi's drama, and particularly his double effort to change the past in order to prevent some of the most loved people in his life from dying, and to rise in the ranks of Toman despite the fact that he seems unable to win a fight against any opponent. This aspect is actually quite appealing to watch, with Takemichis's Sisyphean efforts having an impact in the latter, but repeatedly failing in the former, which is what essentially keeps the series going. At the same time, the inclusion of domestic violence among siblings adds another notch to the drama, and a rather interesting side story, while introducing a series of particularly interesting characters, in the face of the three siblings. Lastly, Takemichi's desperate effort to protect Hinata, while retaining his relationship with her, concludes the layered and quite appealing drama of the season.

19. (, Liden Films)

Insomniacs After School (2023) by Yuki Ikeda

In that fashion, however, it is interesting to see how Yuki Ikeda manages to move beyond these issues, and essentially come up with an anime series that is captivating from beginning to end. The first one is the uniqueness of the two characters which is also the reason they come together, with the insomnia giving the director a plethora of opportunities to show different aspects of everyday life of students in Japan, and to justify how the two come together. The walks during the night, even having to hide from the police on occasion, and later on the texting after hours works quite well here, adding significantly to the whole romance. Isaki's condition adds even more, with the role the heartbeat plays as a concept in the series being truly adorable.

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18. (, )

The action, however, is as impressive as it always was, with the fact that some additional main characters do die once more, adding a very appealing sense of drama to the whole thing. The animation by MAPPA definitely thrives on the speed of the characters during the battles, both heroes and villains, with the appearance of a new form of titans also working well in that regard. The same applies to the existence of the huge one, who actually provides the setting for most of the battles, while the flying titan adds yet another level to the action, similar to air combat. The continuous sacrifice of Reiner is also excellently portrayed, with him looking more and more rugged as the battles continue, while the movement of the Scouts is as impressive as ever.

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17. Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War – The Separation (, )

Bleach - The Separation

Expectedly, though, the shonen elements take over, with the omnipresent concept of the more and more powerful foes appearing and the protagonists training to become stronger themselves permeating the narrative. Tomohisa Taguchi, though, following Tite Kubo's story adds a number of interesting elements, with the zombies, the mind control, and a number of unique abilities the Quincy particularly exhibiting, working quite well for both the action and the comedy in the series. It is somewhere here that one of the most unique elements of “Bleach” finds its apogee as the fanservice essentially gives its stead to a kind of buffoonish perversion, with a number of characters following this recipe, as the image below eloquently portrays.

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16. (, Brain's Base)

Golden Kamuy Season 4 (2023) by Shizutaka Sugahara

Golden Kamuy Season 4” is on a lower level than the rest of the seasons, but still manages to stay high compared to other titles, particularly due to its rather intriguing story, many interesting characters and the presentation of the era and the Ainu culture. Hopefully, the new people behind the series will improve and give an overall great title an equally great finale. 

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Golden Kamuy Season 4 Crunchyroll

15. Arc (, )

Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village Arc (2023) by Haruo Sotozaki

In that fashion, Muichiro's almost sociopathic indifference is fully explored, with him finally remembering his tragic past. The same, more or less applies to Mitsuri, although in a much more lighter tone, while Haruo Sotozaki also presents, briefly, the past of Muzan and Hantengu, in an effort to include more drama in the series, which does not work that greatly though, since it is included throughout the battles in a way that simply prolongs them, in the usual tendency of the shonen. On the other hand, Haganezuka, despite his overall buffoonery, emerges as a rather interesting character due to his obsession, which is also the reason we watch Gyokko stumbling upon someone that annoys him. The latter is also an interesting villain, particularly in the way he considers his brutal actions art. Hantengu, on the other hand, may exhibit the reasons he is so high up in the ranking but the fight with one of his forms emerges as rather annoying after a point, in a style that is also somewhat pedantic. Lastly, the new twist that is presented in the finale is as shocking as possible, essentially paving the way for even more chaos in the next season.

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Demon Slayer Season 3 Crunchyroll

14. (, )

Blue Lock (2022) by Tetsuaki Watanabe

As mentioned in the prologue, the premise here is shonen through and through. In that fashion, more and more characters are presented constantly, adding to the overall story through their background and current mentality, with the fact that ‘there can be only one' but still need to cooperate with their teammates in order for their teams to win, creating an explosive balance that Tetsuaki Watanabe takes advantage of at the fullest to analyze his characters and competitive sports in general. Another element that adds even more to this concept is the fact that, throughout the 24 episodes, the teams change players repeatedly, meaning that former teammates end up being opponents and vice versa, with the way this works in the third stage being utterly cruel.

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13. (, MAPPA)

Vinland Saga Season 2 (2023) by Shuhei Yabuta

The lack of action and violence is actually shocking in this season, with Shuhei Yabuta focusing almost exclusively in portraying life in11th century Europe, through an approach that, quite clearly, highlights the blights of war. The way a peaceful farmer like Einar sees his whole life destroyed in one night is the most evident one, with the series essentially linking the concept of slavery with war, in a remark that is repeatedly presented through the series. The consequences of war are also presented through Thorfinn, whose violent ways of the past and his thirst for revenge have essentially deemed a shell of a man. The way the people who were former slaves treat the ones that are now slaves also emerges as another pointed comment, this time actually targeting human nature, while the strictness of the laws in such dire times, is also painted in the darkest colors, even turning against mere kids, in one of the most shocking episodes of the whole series.

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12. (, )

The Dangers in My Heart (2023) by Hiroaki Akagi

The second element is Anna's character, and the way the ultra stylish, beautiful and popular girl also has a clumsy side, is quite naive on occasion, and hides a rather sensitive soul that makes her “retaining” a guilt complex and exhibiting feelings of jealousy. At the same time, some of her reasoning remains a mystery, to a point at least. For example, it does become obvious that she likes Kyotaro and even considers herself a girlfriend of sorts after a point, but whether she planned the whole thing all along since her first appearance in the library, or if she is in general pretending to be someone she is not, is not exactly certain. This last part may be directed mostly from the way Kyotaro perceives her, not being able to fathom that a girl like her might be romantically interested in someone like him, but the fact remains that if, at some point, it was revealed that she saw him just a small brother, would not exactly be a surprise.

11. (, )

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury Season 2 (2023) by Kobayashi Hiroshi

The way violence creeped into the first season was shocking, but this time it is truly shattering, particularly in the ways it affects kids (teenagers if you prefer) in Asticassia Academy in the attack by the terrorists, children on Earth by the tactics of the Benerit Group, as much as a number of innocent individuals who just happen to themselves in the middle of the opposing forces. The experiments that also involve teenagers, and the fact that they reach limits that they feel they have to sacrifice themselves despite the fact that they are knowing the consequences, adds even more to this aspect, as violence turns into drama in the most impactful way.

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About the author

Panos Kotzathanasis

My name is Panos Kotzathanasis and I am Greek. Being a fan of Asian cinema and especially of Chinese kung fu and Japanese samurai movies since I was a little kid, I cultivated that love during my adolescence, to extend to the whole of SE Asia.

Starting from my own blog in Greek, I then moved on to write for some of the major publications in Greece, and in a number of websites dealing with (Asian) cinema, such as Taste of Cinema, Hancinema, EasternKicks, Chinese Policy Institute, and of course, Asian Movie Pulse. in which I still continue to contribute.

In the beginning of 2017, I launched my own website, Asian Film Vault, which I merged in 2018 with Asian Movie Pulse, creating the most complete website about the Asian movie industry, as it deals with almost every country from East and South Asia, and definitely all genres.

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

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